UC ANR leader in Butte County Susan Donohue retires
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources nutrition education in Northern California, Susan Donohue retires July 1 after 38 years of service to UC Cooperative Extension and the community.
Donohue began working in extension after earning a teaching credential at the University of Hawaii and a master's degree in family studies at Michigan State. She was named home economist and 4-H advisor for Butte and Tehama counties in 1978 and held many positions over the years combining 4-H and home economics. "Home economist" was renamed “nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor” during her career to more accurately reflect the job's scope.
As the nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor, Donohue was responsible for setting up the first federally funded Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program in her part of the state. The program provides training to low-income families to help them follow federal nutrition guidelines, including the current iteration, MyPlate. Donohue also established an educational program for CalFresh (formerly food stamp) recipients, called UC CalFresh. The program helps families make the best use of their benefits with meal planning, smart shopping and home cooking, among other strategies.
In time, Donohue was promoted to director of UC ANR Cooperative Extension in Butte County. In that role she helped establish UC Master Gardeners in the region, a program which enlists volunteer gardening enthusiasts to share research-based information with the public on sustainable landscaping, orchards and vegetable gardening. Donohue also was instrumental in attracting a technology transfer initiative to monitor and maintain honey bee health to UC ANR Cooperative Extension in Butte County.
The “Bee Informed Partnership,” created with a $5 million grant from the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture in 2011, identified common beekeeping management practices and developed best practices on a regional level. In addition to involving institutions already doing pollinator work, the partnership included local citizens working in beekeeping and associated industries.
Later in her career Donohue worked on a statewide leadership council for UC ANR's Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program.
“I really enjoyed the administrative component of the job,” Donohue said. Nevertheless, during the last year of her tenure she returned to the county for a chance to again work directly with local clients and organizations on nutrition education.
“There is no better job than Cooperative Extension,” Donohue said.
In retirement Donohue said she plans to enjoy a slower-paced life, national and international travel and volunteering.